Our practice of Lent is modeled after Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness—after his baptism and before his ministry. He has left the rest of his life as he has known it up till now, and is preparing to move into his ministry of teaching, preaching, and healing. But first: the desert. The next few weeks, we’ll be looking specifically at the temptations Jesus encountered in that wilderness time, but for now, let’s consider the wilderness itself. The Lenten fast mirrors, too, the time of Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness—after Egypt and before entering the land they were meant to inhabit. The wilderness is an in-between time, a liminal space, whatever comes between what-was and what-will-be. It is a not-anymore and not-yet space that we live into, in the season of Lent. Forty days of fasting in dry desert places can leave us feeling parched and hungry (as the gospel writers point out to us about Jesus after 40 days: “and at the end of them, he was hungry” – you think??). It brings up all our inner “stuff”, too. So, the wilderness time can sometimes feel like emptiness and barrenness and even misery. BUT, the wilderness is also a place of presence – a space of encountering the God that brought us there and is bringing us through. Israel experienced God’s presence in the wilderness years. The pillar of cloud and fire went with them wherever they wandered. Counterintuitively, the wilderness is often a place of encounter. Think of Hagar escaping to the desolate places, and—just when she was fearing for her (and her son’s) life, God meets her. Sees her. Speaks to her. We see this over and over in Scripture. People coming to this place of desolation, only to be cared for more deeply than they could have imagined. This, too, is Lent. Our intentional wilderness time. So, this first full week of Lent, let's begin our wandering in the wilderness together - knowing just how hard (and life-giving) it will almost certainly be. What are your feelings about "wilderness" time?

Posted by Jamie Bonilla at 2022-03-07 14:30:12 UTC